Review: NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander
July 20, 2019 marked the 50 year anniversary since mankind first set foot on the moon. To commemorate the occasion, the LEGO® Group teamed up with NASA to develop a brick-built replica of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander. I reported on this back at the end of May, when the LEGO® Group officially announced the set (click here to check it out). To celebrate both occasions, True North Bricks is reviewing the set today! As always, if you are curious about how scores are generated in this review, feel free to check out my rating system by clicking here.
NAME: NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander
SET #: 10266
THEME: Creator Expert
COST: $139.99 CAD
BRICK COUNT: 1087
RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2019
SUMMARY REVIEW: 89%
VALUE: 88% (Good value per brick, and excellent build time for the price.)
BUILD: 90% (Great build, a couple of unused opportunities though.)
MINIFIGURES: 77% (Characters are true to form, but are not that detailed.)
ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (Awesome for display, awesome for play.)
The Lunar Lander set retails for $139.99 in Canada. With 1087 pieces, you are looking at a cost-per-brick of $0.13. That is right below my current average of $0.14/brick, which is good. I rate that at 83%.
The Lunar Lander set took me a grand total of 240 minutes to assemble (an even four hours). At full price, each minute of build time cost me $0.58, which is excellent. This set earns a build-time value of 93%.
There are three main parts to this build. You start off by piecing together the base, which is meant to simulate the surface of the moon. I like that this wasn’t simply a baseplate, and that the texture varies across the surface. The best feature is the large crater. Four smaller “craters”, one in each corner, serve has the touchdown points for the landing struts.
Next, you build the lander. There are a lot of gold pieces and stickers on this portion. You also get a couple of hidden compartments, one for the camera which filmed Niel Armstrong as he took his first steps onto the surface of the moon. The other stores a laser reflector. The landing struts on this are something else. They are expertly designed (not that the rest of the set isn’t).
The ascent module is the third part of the build. It consists of three smaller sections that can be separated so that you can actually place Minifigures inside. The first piece features the hatch that leads out of the module. There is the main body, which features sticker computer panels inside, and then a third block which is hollow, but does not actually open. In real life, that compartment would have housed oxygen tanks, equipment, and ascent engines. It would have been neat to get some of that instead of just a hollow block.
All things considered, the Lunar Lander is a really fun build. There were a great many moments where I stopped to marvel at the ingenuity of the design. You learn a lot of new build techniques and tricks when putting this set together. The instruction manual was also entertaining. There is a load of information about the actual Lunar Lander in the first few pages, and then fun facts sprinkled throughout the build steps. As I mentioned before, I kind of wish that the storage area was accessible. I also would have liked the docking hatch on the roof to open. Those are not major complaints, but lose half a mark each all the same. All in all, this is a great build, and I rate it at 9/10 (90%).
There are two astronaut Minifigures included with the Lunar Lander. Presumably they are meant to represent Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The body designs of both Minifigures are identical. Each comes with plain white legs, and a front-and-back-printed torso. Their space helmets and oxygen tanks are the same as those that came with the City space sets from 2015. Each Minifigure has a slightly different face print, but no alternate facial expressions. There isn’t much for accessories with these characters. You get an American flag, a replica of the plaque that was attached to the lander and left behind, as well as the laser reflector. These are all stickers on tiles though. I give these figurines 23/30 (77%) for design.
Two Minifigures in a kit containing 1087 pieces gives you a brick-to-Minifigure ratio of 544:1. That is really not very good at all. But, one also has to consider that this set is meant to be a replica of the actual Lunar Lander, which only carried two people to the moon. So, including more Minifigures would not have been true to the source material in this case. So, for the purposes of this review, I will not be scoring the brick-to-Minifigure ratio.
The NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander is no doubt a collector’s set. There is loads of detail, and it looks great from every angle, making it a wonderful display piece. But, I think that even younger LEGO® enthusiasts will get a kick out of this set. While they may need help putting it together (there are a couple of tricky points, even for adults), there will be loads of play time to follow. A really good attempt was made to make the interior of the lander accessible, so there is some room for play inside. Kids can also get an idea of how the actual Lunar Lander functioned in terms of descent and ascent phases through playing with this. I would have LOVED this set as a kid.
I highly recommend the NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set. Even at full price, you are definitely getting your money’s worth both in terms of the cost-per-brick as well as the amount of build time that you get. Builders will also pick up some great build techniques to use in future custom projects. The only downside with this set is the lack of detail in the Minifigures, and their lack of accessories. I feel like a little more effort could have been made to make these guys more authentic, or resembling the actual astronauts somehow. Arm printing or leg printing would have been a start. But, in end, you have an amazing display piece, or something that aspiring astronauts will get a lot of play time with.
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Until next time,
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